Technology companies are overlooking potential competence

News article

When it comes to achieving an equal workplace that values diversity, Finnish workplaces still have a way to go.

Behind successful companies there is usually a diverse work community. However, the results of recent surveys by Academic engineers and architects TEK reveal that when it comes to achieving an equal workplace that values diversity, Finnish workplaces still have a way to go.

During the spring, many companies announced substantial recruitment of technology experts. TEK is encouraging companies to make use of all the potential competence available, including people of both genders, different ages and those with a foreign background. There are still ample opportunities to achieve this in Finland.

– A work culture that values diversity and difference increases employees’ well-being at work, productivity and innovativeness, emphasises Jari Jokinen, Director of the Competence and Research Unit at TEK.

As an example, Jokinen mentions people of foreign backgrounds with university degrees in technology. One in three experiences discrimination. Most often they experience discrimination in recruitment, according to TEK’s labour market survey conducted in autumn 2015.

– The same thing can be seen in the employment of recent graduates. Graduates with a Finnish background are three times more likely to find employment than their foreign counterparts who have completed their degrees in Finland, says Jokinen.

– When Finnish SMEs are, at the same time, aiming towards international markets, it’s foolish not to tap into the international expert potential we already have in Finland. This would give a company access to language skills and local knowledge of their target countries. In addition, the company would gain an edge in terms of image and branding compared to its competitors.

Nearly one-third of women have experienced discrimination

Jokinen is concerned by the fact that nearly one-third of TEK’s female members says they have experienced discrimination or inappropriate treatment at their workplace. Often this is related to progressing in one’s career. This was revealed in TEK’s recent equality survey.

– Nothing but equal treatment and career opportunities allow human resources and everyone’s expertise to be utilised as efficiently as possible. The significance of technology and the need for technological expertise will be even further emphasised in the future, and we cannot afford to restrict technological development only to men, Jokinen notes.

According to Jokinen, the professional skills of technology experts of different ages must also be put to broader use.  Of respondents 50–59 years of age, one in four said they had experienced discrimination due to their age.

– It looks like companies do not necessarily know how to put experience to use. People are too quick to put a ‘best before date’ on expertise. However, other research by TEK indicates that unemployed people over 50 years of age are the most diligent when it comes to developing their own professional expertise, for example.  

TEK’s equality survey received 850 responses from university graduates in technology in April–May of this year.